Thomas Wolfe On The Profit Motive

I have a particular fondness for Thomas Wolfe because like him I lived in Asheville, North Carolina and later attended Harvard.  In his masterwork, Look Homeward Angel, Wolfe writes about the fictional town of Altamont which is Asheville's doppelgänger.  Wolfe's novel so veridically portrayed the people of Altamont (Asheville), that Wolfe didn't return home for eight years.  His homecoming experience evidently inspired another novel, entitled You Can't Go Home Again, which was edited and published posthumously in 1940.

None of this has anything to do with corporate law, but there is one passage in You Can't Go Home Again that questions the profit motive while at the same time criticizing corporate virtue signaling:

A banker's business was to invest his money wherever he could get the best return.  Business was business, and to say that a man's social views ought to come between him and his profits was caviling, indeed!  As for Mr. Hirsch himself, he had devoted champions even among the comrades of the left, who were quick to point out that theoretical criticism of this sort was childish.  The sources of Mr. Hirsch's wealth and power, whatever they might be, were quite accidental and beside the point.  His position as a liberal, "a friend of Russia," a leader of advanced social opinion, a searching critic, indeed, of the very capitalist class to which he belonged, was so well known as to place him in the very brain and forehead of enlightened thought.

In 2016, a film, entitled Genius, was made depicting Wolfe relationship with his first editor, Maxwell Perkins, who also "discovered" Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

For a defense of shareholder wealth maximization, see Professor Stephen Bainbridge's recently published The Profit Motive: Defending Shareholder Value Maximization.